As you spend time with your new roommate, you may begin to think, "she's too messy", or "he's too clean", "too loud", "too different from me", etc. Face it, people are going to disagree. Even the best of friends can disagree when confined to a small residence hall room or apartment. Handling these issues in a positive manner can make all the difference. When you move into your residence hall, you should discuss each of your living habits and create a roommate contract to set down ground rules that are agreed upon by both roommates. However, situations can still arise where roommates find themselves at odds with one another. We asked upper class students their thoughts on preventing roommate issues from occurring. They quoted the following:
- "Ask before borrowing clothing or anything and always return it in pristine condition." - Stephanie Hatcher, Sophomore from Houston, TX and Emily Kendall, Junior from Dallas, TX
- "Don't room with your best friend and always take the time to get to know them. Make sure you look at your roommate agreement and go over it together." - Taylor Brooks, Junior from Dallas, TX and Kelly Doyle, Junior from The Woodlands, TX
- "Make sure you don't eat your roommate's food, unless they tell you that it's cool if you do." - Johnnie Beavers, Senior from Dallas, TX, Grovey Latimer, Senior from Angleton, TX and Lawrence Davis, Senior from Chicago, IL
- "The first day living in the residence halls together, sit down and set guide lines such as being quiet when your roommate is studying, or sleeping." - Jerren Hogg, Junior from Garland, TX and Dakota Cowley, Junior from Garland, TX,
- "Respect their personal space, be considerate of schedules and have open communication." - Jessica Patterson, Senior from Texas City and Stacey Laborde, Alumni from Cypress
- Build trust with your roommates and make memories college will be some of the best years of your life" - Anthony Garcia-Junior from Abilene, TX, Jake King-Sophomore from Dallas, TX and Ryan Colston-Senior from Houston, TX
So, what do you do if you find yourself in the middle of an argument?
- Define the problem: Often times it is the little things that escalate into larger problems. If you find yourself in the middle of a potential conflict, you should first find the root of the problem. What is the issue? What are the feelings associated?
- Generate solutions: Once the problem is identified, brainstorm some possible solutions to address the issue. Work at getting to a solution that can be considered a 'win' for each person.
- Agree upon and implement the solutions: The solution should be fair to each roommate. Agree on one solution and commit to carrying it out.
- Evaluate the solutions: After the solution has been implemented, take some time to evaluate and see if it was fair to both roommates. If the problem still persists, explore the situation again and agree to an alternate solution. You and your roommate should work to understand your differences and compromise on pressing issues.
If it seems like you've tried everything and nothing seems to work…don't panic. There are many people that can help. If you live in the residence halls, utilize your RAs. They have actually been trained to help roommates resolve their problems. If you are afraid your situation is too embarrassing, don't worry, RAs have been here for awhile so they've heard everything or have already been through it themselves.
A healthy living environment can enrich a college experience. Being proactive with potential roommate conflicts and asking for help when needed can create a living space where you feel comfortable to study, relax, and be yourself.